Over 100 Students Test Positive for COVID-19 in First 2 Weeks of Semester

Ellie Nolan '25, Staff Writer

A recent spike in COVID-19 cases at Dickinson saw more than 100 students–or about 2.5 percent of the student population–test positive in the first 2 weeks of the fall semester.

Dickinson’s COVID policy, which President Jones said is informed by all CDC guidance, is to have students isolate in place if they have tested positive. Close contacts of people who test positive are no longer informed and the COVID dashboard is no longer in use. Case numbers are still being tracked on the webpage COVID-19 Student Information. These are because the “reality is that we’re arcing towards something that is more endemic than pandemic,” Jones said.

Tests are available only to symptomatic individuals, while asymptomatic people are recommended to purchase at home tests themselves. Dean of Students George Stroud said that evidence shows that asymptomatic testing “doesn’t move the ball.” Additionally he said that in the beginning of the pandemic at-home tests were difficult to find but you “now can find at-home testing at Walmart, CVS, everywhere.” 

Some students have been encountering issues with obtaining either an appointment at the Wellness Center or an at-home test. Roland Locke ’25 called the Wellness Center, believing that his close contact with a COVID positive student as well as his symptoms would guarantee a test. He was turned away however, and told to obtain his own test and call back with the results if positive. 

Jacob Franciscus ’23 tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, September 4 using an at-home testing kit, began quarantining immediately, and contacted the people he had been in contact with in recent days. On Monday, he called the Wellness Center to inform them of his illness. Since he first reached out to the Wellness Center, Franciscus claims that “[they have] been incredibly helpful throughout this process.”

When asked about his professors’ reactions to his inability to attend class, Fransiscus said, “the support from my professors during this difficult time was the first time since I transferred to Dickinson that I truly felt cared for and welcomed in the community. I will be forever grateful for their kindness and care.” 

He also described the various  ways his professors offered to assist him regardless of his inability to attend class, from arranging zoom meetings, recorded lectures, class notes, and promises to help him review the material when he is well again. However, Franciscus worries about students who are exhibiting symptoms but are not yet testing positive, “This means that they were continuing to attend class and meeting due dates when they felt that should have been prioritizing rest simply because they were confused about how their professors would handle makeup work, due dates, and other items,” he says. 

One concern Franciscus had which many students share is with the sick meals provided by Dining Services for ill students. These meals consist of two containers of applesauce, a carton of vegetable broth, two fruits, crackers, and water every day for 5 days or more days. “I am not a medical professional,” said Franciscus, “but I imagine that a diet of crackers, two fruits, and a water over a 5-day quarantine probably isn’t the best way to stay healthy.” Fortunately, Dining Services does provide not just sick meals, but injury meals which are paper clam shell containers that the student volunteer can fill up with hot food from the cafe line.

Eliza Coull ’25 tested positive on September 6, and expressed worry for the students that are dropping off their friends’ meals for friends with COVID-19, “I understand it’s likely due to lack of staffing…” she said, “Because you have to rely on your friends, and quite frankly those are the people who were probably exposed and likely to test positive during those 5 days.” 

The reliance on friends for meals while COVID positive is not something all students have access to, some people, especially first-years, do not have the support networks in place yet to get food and any other supplies necessary to last their 5 day quarantine period. Stroud said that administrators and staff had worked with students in this situation to deliver meals.